The Devastation of the California Wildfires


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The Devastation of the California Wildfires

As everyone is surely aware, wildfires have been devastating cities across California. However, many people are unaware of the cause of such fires, as well as the magnitude to which these fires are impacting communities. We wanted to write this blog to examine the cause of these fires, look at their impact, and take a moment to thank those brave fire fighters working effortlessly to keep us safe.

What is Causing This Outbreak in Wildfires?

California is coming off one of the wettest winters in years, so why are wildfires the worst they have been in years. Believe it or not, the wet winter negatively contributed to these fires because the rain left hillsides covered in grass and vegetation which then became dried out over the summer. This means that the hills were covered in dried out grass that provided tinder and fuel to these raging fires – there are also estimated to be 102 million dead trees due to the 5-year dry spell and bark beetle infestation. These factors, coupled with intense winds, make the fires stronger and pushing them further than ever before.

The Impact of These Fires

Cal Fire reported over 6,700 fires in California in 2017 which burned 505,000 acres. To put that in perspective, there were 4,742 fires in 2016 with 244,297 acres burned. This horrific year for fires first worsened in Northern California. The Northern California wildfires took 42 lives and burned 5,700 homes and businesses – making the Northern California series of fires the most deadly and destructive in California history. Now the fires continue in Southern California with new fires seeming to arise every day. The most significant and destructive fire is the Thomas Fire which had scorched over 270,000 acres and over 1,000 buildings. As of Christmas, the fire was only about 50% contained and had impacted over 100,000 Californians, according to Cal Fire. Below you can see a map of the fires that occurred in California from October to December and boundaries of the Thomas Fire specifically.

CA Fire MapFire Fighting Efforts

During the Northern California fires, there were some 9,000 firefighters working long hours to battle the raging hours. The combination of steep terrain, intense heat, and lack of sleep had Northern California firefighters “pushing it to the limits” according to one commander. The Southern California firefighters have been facing similar challenges, with more than 8,400 firefighters working around the clock with 1,000 fire engines and 34 helicopters. One firefighter, Cory Iverson, died fighting the fires and a funeral procession was recently held through 5 counties. We want to thank every firefighter working tirelessly to save these communities – especially those who may have spent the holidays fighting fires rather than with their families.

These California fires are looking to become the worst of all time; thus, we wanted to take a minute to update everyone on the magnitude of such fires. Beyond this, we are incredibly appreciative of everyone working effortlessly to stop such fires and keep us safe.

Local Nonprofits We Love to Support

Los Alamitos is home to some of the most generous and philanthropic people around; thus, it only follows that Los Alamitos is also home to some of the best nonprofits in the area. This article will focus on some of the most prolific nonprofits in the area and the good they are providing for the community. We at Sunset proudly support all these organizations, and we encourage you to read up on them and get involved if you are not already.


Casa Youth Shelter

Casa Youth Shelter is a nonprofit organization that offers emergency temporary shelter for homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth. Their mission is to provide a supportive environment so that the youth they assist can recover and redevelop personal strength in hopes of ultimately reuniting with their family. Myldred E. Jones opened Casa Youth Shelter in 1978 with a minimal budget and only one full-time employee, but the organization now has twelve beds in six bedrooms with a number of caring employees. Besides providing shelter for distressed youth, the organization also offers counseling, outreach to schools, youth leadership programs, and parenting classes. Below is an infographic with Casa Youth Shelter’s statistics from 2014, and it is clear to see the good this nonprofit is providing to the Los Alamitos area – this organization has truly come a long way since its opening in 1978. Here is the link for Casa Youth Shelter’s website if you are interested in donating or volunteering:

casa youth shelter

Los Alamitos Youth Center

The Youth CenterThe Youth Center looks to positively impact children through social, educational, and recreational programs. The Youth Center has developed partnerships throughout the Los Alamitos community with organizations like the Los Alamitos Unified School District, Rossmoor Community Service District, Seal Beach Lions and Leos Club, and many more – this means that many of the largest and most impactful events in the community have close ties to the Youth Center. In 1952, Frank Vessels, the Los Alamitos Race track entrepreneur, applied to the State of California for an additional race day and then used those funds to open the Youth Center. The Youth Center now continues to provide various programs and benefit to the community through donations from local individuals and businesses. Here is the link to the Youth Center’s website if you are interested in donating or volunteering:


Precious Life Shelter

Precious Life Shelter provides a safe environment for pregnant women with no place to live. Precious Life Shelter’s three step program provides various means of support which then allows these women to safely have their child, while simultaneously teaching them to become self-sufficient. The goal is not only to help these women in their time of crisis, but also to ensure that they are prepared for the responsibilities that come with life after childbirth. The program opened in 1989 and has since expanded, developing new programs and adding property to better support those women in need. Precious Life Shelter also operates a Thrift and Gift shop in which they sell extra donations not used by the residents and raise enough money to cover about 40% of the organization’s operating costs. Precious Life Center is another great nonprofit that has come a long way in supporting the Los Alamitos and surrounding communities. Here is the link for Pathways’ website if you are interested in donating or volunteering:



NCLNational Charity League or NCL is a mother-daughter philanthropic organization focuses on community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences. The organization formed in 1947 after two groups, one started in 1925 by a small group of women in Los Angeles and the other by their daughters in 1938, merged to create the first mother-daughter philanthropic organization. We are especially tied to the South Coast chapter of the National Charity League which is based in the Long Beach and West Orange County areas with most junior members attending Los Alamitos schools. The chapter supports philanthropies with hands-on service as well as monetary donations raised from their thrift shop, Miss Charity’s Attic, located on Cerritos Avenue, and their popular event Tournament Day, held every fall.  Here is the link to the South Coast division of NCL if you are interested in donating or volunteering:



WE CARE pools the resources of the community in order to meet the emergency needs of families and individuals. WE CARE offers emergency, referral, therapy, healthcare, and holiday services to ensure families in need can remain healthy and happy. Listed below are a few statistics showing how many people were helped by WE CARE from 2015 – 2017:

  • Food Distribution– 456 families/2,280 individuals were given 7,000 bags=140,000 lbs.
  • Hygiene/Personal Care– 275 families/1,375 individuals were given personal hygiene kits.
  • Food Certificates/Gift Cards– 75 families/375 individuals=$3,200.00
  • Rent/Mortgage– 170 households/850 individuals=$215,180.00
  • Utility Assistance– 47 households/235 individuals=$10,500.00.
  • Vehicle Supportive Services– 12 families/60 individuals=$3,072.00
  • Christmas Adopt-A-Family Program– 800+ children received toys
  • Case Management– 505 families/2,020 individuals

Sunset is happy to support a great nonprofit like WE CARE working constantly to better the Los Alamitos community. Here is the link for WE CARE’s website if you are interested in donating or volunteering:


Pathways to Independence

Pathway to Independence or Pathways works to transform the lives of disadvantaged young women through education, therapy, mentoring, housing, and healthcare. Pathways was founded in 1994 and has always sought to help financially poor young women from backgrounds of abuse with higher ambitions of receiving an education or job. Through their services, Pathways is able to help a group of about 50 women at a time achieve such ambitions and become independent. Since its beginning no members or executives of Pathways have received any compensation whatsoever and about 88% of the program expenses went directly to the clients in 2015. We also love to support Friends of Pathways, which a subdivision of Pathways comprised of a small group of women who work to raise the money necessary for Pathways to function. This all just goes to show how Pathways is another great nonprofit working effortlessly for the betterment our community. Here is the link for Pathways’ website if you are interested in donating or volunteering:

Here is a promo video Pathways made back in 2013 with their founder Dave Bishop talking about their mission:


We truly believe that Los Alamitos is one of the best communities around, and this is largely in part due to these organizations. These nonprofits offer a wide variety of ways to get involved meaning nobody should have an excuse for not volunteering or donating. Regardless of personal preference, we are certain that everyone can find a way to help out and keep this community flourishing, so we encourage everyone to reach out to these nonprofits and help in some way, shape, or form.

Rush Park Summer Events 2017

Every year Rush Park in Rossmoor (3021 Blume Dr, Rossmoor, CA 90720) hosts a range of events which encourage local citizens to come out and have fun with friends and family. I’m always excited for the events personally because Rush Park is right across the street from our family. This year the events are returning in the form of Music, Movies in the Park, and Shakespeare in the Park. Admission is free to all these events and they even bring food trucks, which are delicious and convenient. Below is the schedule and description for such events, and we encourage you to swing by and check it out.


Friday, June 16th @ 6:00 pm: The Elm Street Band

The Elm Street Band has been referred to as “the soundtrack for the City of Long Beach, playing at events all over town” by the Long Beach Press-Telegram. They have been performing their garage/surf music throughout Southern California since 1988 and should definitely be an exciting act to attend with friends and family.

Friday, July 14th @ 6:00 pm: King Salmon Band

The King Salmon Band is another popular band throughout Southern California known for their fun mixture of recognizable songs. Their music is great to sing along with and dance to as they play a large variety of music from Cocktail Jams, Classic Rock & Disco, and 70s-80s-90s Favorites all the way to Current Classics. The King Salmon Band will be another exciting event that you should think about attending.

Friday, August 18th @ 6:00 pm: Smokin’ Cobras

The Smokin’ Cobras is a 6-person band who perform high energy songs all across Southern California. The Smokin’ Cobras perform the greatest songs from the 50’s to 80’s and are most well known for their Retro Rock ‘N’ Roll songs. This is going to be another great, exciting band to sing and dance along to, and we encourage you to stop on by and give it a go.


The three movies in the park are all kids movies which have come out in the past year or so. These movies are perfect for small children, and will likely be unfavorable without small children. Thus, while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a kid’s film every once in awhile, these movies are probably best avoided if you don’t have young children.

Friday, June 16th @ Dusk: Sing

Friday, July 14th @ Dusk: Lego Batman

Friday, August 18th @ Dusk: Moana

Shakespeare in the Park

Saturday, July 22nd @ 7:00 pm: Macbeth

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies revolving around a Scottish general spurred to power by the prophecy of three witches. Macbeth is a great tragedy and will surely be entertaining to anyone who enjoys the works of Shakespeare.

Sunday, July 23rd @ 7:00 pm: The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is a lesser known comedy of Shakespeare focusing on a forced marriage in which the wife, Katherina, is a “shrew”, or an unwilling participant, before her husband Petruchio “tames” her with his tricks. The movie 10 Things I Hate About You is roughly based off this play so if you like that movie or like Shakespearean comedies than this play is for you.


These three types of events are different in variety meaning that everyone should be able to find at least one that they enjoy. These events are a perfect way to spend time with family and friends while remaining local and not having to spend any money. These various events are truly exciting community events, and we hope everyone tries attending at least one this summer.

How the Los Alamitos Youth Center is Helping the Community

This last Saturday the Youth Center opened up its annual tree lot once again. Many of you likely get your trees from this lot every year, but there are many others who have no idea of the good this simple tree lot is doing for the community. In this article we’ll talk about the benefits of the Youth Center and how the tree lot is helping our community.

youthcenterlogoThe Youth Center

The Youth Center is located right next to Oak Middle School and has been a positive force in the community for years. The Youth Center has afterschool programs for students among a broad range of other programs such as the popular Los Alamitos High School Every 15 Minutes program. Programs like these are meant to transform children’s lives through educational and recreational programs. The Youth Center has and continues to be a central force in the Los Alamitos community. My children, Kelli and Eddie, used to visit the Youth Center after school, so we love to support them whenever possible.

Christmas Tree Lot

The Youth Center Christmas tree lot is located in the parking lot of Ganahl Lumber (10742 Los Alamitos Blvd, Los Alamitos, CA 90720). This tree lot is special for two main reasons, which we talk about below.

Youth Volunteers

The Youth Center gets all its workers from around the community. Los Al high school sports teams volunteer as well as local families, and in the end it means you are getting helped by a local, friendly face. Because the volunteers are local you know they have your best interest in mind and everyone working is really just looking to help the community.

youthvoluneersDonation to Community

Tree Lot100% of the Youth Center’s tree lot sales goes to supporting local youth programs. They like to say “Other lots sell trees for profit. We sell trees that support children”. In addition, the Youth Center will donate $5 to the school of your choice for every tree sold.

The Youth Center is fostering positivity in the community and is promoting education and recreational programs for children. It is for these reasons of charity that we love to support the Youth Center and encourage everyone to get their tree there every year. So be sure to stop by the tree lot in the parking lot of Ganahl Lumber and get some hot cocoa and candy canes while you pick out all tree and help the Los Alamitos community!

Cheers, JZ

Pikachu 4 President? The Pokémon Go Phenomenon

If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go by now, then you must be living under a rock. The app became the largest mobile game in US history with 21 million daily users in the first week and caused Nintendo’s share prices to jump 70 percent. Everywhere you go you can see people, young and not so young, walking around like lifeless, cell-phone-equipped zombies. There’s no denying the benefits of the game which forces players to get up off the couch and actually walk around in order to play. However, there are two sides to every coin as the game has been used by pedophiles to lure in kids and has caused other serious accidents.

In this article, we’ll highlight the pros and cons, while looking into some of the crazy stories, and how we recently got involved with Pokémon Go.

Pros of Pokémon Go

Mental and Physical Benefits

The integrated GPS of Pokémon Go causes players to go to various locations in order to catch Pokémon. This forces players to walk around and get physical exercise while also being exposed to the sun. The combination of these two has helped boost overall player happiness and even helped people overcome depression in a few rare cases.

Sense of Community

Pokestops are set locations in the real world and are known to bring players together. The other night while driving home around midnight I witnessed nearly 20 kids playing Pokémon at Rush park. This sense of community and the unifying factor Pokémon Go carries is unlike any other app.

Boosting Local Businesses

Due to the random location of Pokestops, players are being introduced to new areas they have never explored before. This is leading players to discover new businesses and these businesses are then able to connect with players simply by talking about the app. Stores around the country have reported sales increases between 5-30% just due to Pokémon Go.

Cons of Pokémon Go

Used Criminally

The hunt for Pokémon has led players everywhere whether it be Arlington Cemetery or dark alleys. Numerous players have reported being mugged or assaulted while playing the game in alleys and dangerous neighborhoods. Now of course, the players are clearly the ones to blame in most situations, but it is also evident that the game is becoming a useful tool for criminals and pedophiles.

Leading to Injury

Every time you open the Pokémon Go app there is a warning to be aware of your surroundings; however, this is clearly not doing the trick as numerous players have reported injury while playing the game. Players have reported everything from falling off a curb to falling down a ditch to falling off a cliff. Now once again, the players are to blame, but it just shows that the overly addictive game is causing some issues.

Killing Your Data and Battery

Due to the GPS augmentation of the game, Pokémon Go drains not just your battery but also your data. Playing the game for 30 minutes or more will surely leave a dent in your phone’s charge and it’s hard to play the game all day without needing to recharge your phone.

Outdoor Living and Garden Tour 2016 Wrap Up

The Rossmoor Woman’s Club (RWC) held its 13th annual Outdoor Living and Garden Tour on May 15th.

The Outdoor Living and Garden Tour this year was very successful, with proceeds of over $18,000. This fundraiser allows them to support local charities such as:

  • Bethune Transitional Center
  • Los Alamitos Museum
  • We Care
  • Precious Life
  • Interval House
  • Fisher House
  • Friends of the Los Alamitos Library and many others

The RWC gives scholarships to students at Los Alamitos High School and regularly gives monetary awards to LAHS designated Students of the Month!

Outdoor LivingBarbara Murphy is the current chairperson for the Outdoor Living and Garden Tour. She became a member of the club in 2011 and has held the position of club Treasurer for the past three years.

Congratulations to Barb and the entire team of volunteers for helping our community in such a big way!

Cheers, JZ

The Rossmoor Woman’s Club, a volunteer organization affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), serves our community through collaborative partnerships, philanthropy, and advocacy, while promoting the spirit of friendship among members. Learn more at